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Shock new high in child abuse figures
MORE than 100 vulnerable young children have been taken into care in Worcestershire, some of whom have been abused and neglected.
The shocking figures show 102 children aged under five were taken into care in 2012/13 in the county because they were subjected to abuse or neglect, their families broke down, or because their needs were so great that they could no longer be cared for in the family home.
During the previous financial year (2011/12) there were 111 cases.
The latest figures show that Worcestershire County Council needs to improve in certain key areas when it comes to looking after children in care.
The council is failing to achieve 23 of its own 34 stringent targets concerning early health and social care.
There are also more children in care in Worcestershire than the council is aiming for, mainly because more children under five years old are subjected to abuse or neglect, more 16/17-year-olds whose families declare them as homeless, and the need for social care and other agencies to intervene earlier.
Siobhan Williams, head of children’s social care at Worcestershire County Council, said the council aimed to reduce the number by helping support families with problems sooner.
“We want all children and young people in Worcestershire to be living in safe, stable and loving homes,” she said. “Unfortunately, and for many different reasons such as neglectful or abusive parenting and the additional pressures on families in this time of austerity, this is not always the case.
“Children and families are one of the county council's top priorities and we are working hard to keep our children and young people safe.” Mrs Williams said the council’s early help strategy provided family support to try and resolve any issues which could lead to children being taken into care.
Particularly vulnerable families are offered intensive support and the council is increasing the number of frontline social workers.